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Rowan-Salisbury Schools leaders enhancing security measures following high school basketball tourney shooting

The board also heard an update about a recent cyber incident against the district.

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — The Rowan-Salisbury Schools (RSS) Board of Education is looking at security measures as students, staff and faculty return from winter break. The board voted on safety measures on Tuesday, Jan. 4, after a shooting during a high school basketball tournament on the campus of Catawba College on Wednesday, Dec. 29. 

The shooting injured two children. 

Officials also heard an update about a cyber incident that also happened on Wednesday.

Safety update

Tuesday marked the first meeting by the board since the Sam Moir Basketball Tournament. According to a presentation provided during the meeting, the high school basketball tournament feature teams from RSS, Davie County Schools and Kannapolis City Schools. 

The shooting happened during halftime of the West Rowan High/North Rowan High boys' game on Dec. 29. Two Davie County minors were injured and two juveniles are in custody. 

With students now back on campus after winter break, the board took quick action in approving four measures that'll be used to address security: 

  1. All fans entering RSS athletic facilities for designated events will enter through a security checkpoint and will be wanded by a metal detector in an effort to create a safer environment for all fans, guests, coaches and student athletes.
  2. Backpacks and large bags will be prohibited at all RSS athletic events, excluding student athletes. An exception will be made for diaper bags and medical bags with screening. All person items are subject to search. 
  3. RSS middle schools do not have athletic events scheduled this week, but will have scheduled practice. 
  4. RSS will not host athletic events this week but will travel to schedule away games and have scheduled practices

RELATED: 2 juveniles charged after shooting at Catawba College

Officials say student services staff were onsite at several high school and middle school campuses to offer support to the RSS community. Jan. 4 is when students returned from winter break.

Board members say this is just the first of many discussions to address security concerns. 

“Administrators will be developing a community safety task force and working with parents, community supporters, and community agencies to look at preventing safety issues and improve school climate across the board. We want to make sure students make good choices and to ensure schools are safe and enjoyable places for everyone,” Superintendent Dr. Tony B. Watlington, Sr. said in a news release emailed to WCNC Charlotte “We will absolutely not tolerate violence in Rowan-Salisbury Schools."

RELATED: 2 juveniles injured after shooting at Catawba College

Cyber incident update

RSS was also the victim of a "cyber incident" on Dec. 29. 

The board was provided an update about the incident on Tuesday. According to a presentation, the system's IT department responded within six to eight hours and had the incident contained within a day. The North Carolina Joint Cyber Task Force was also notified. 

RSS officials say phones were restored within 48 hours, critical core systems were restored within three days while internet was restored in four days.

RELATED: NC school district computers impacted by 'cyber incident,' officials say

District leaders said the early findings determined this wasn't a system failure but rather a compromised user account. The National Guard assisted RSS in data collections and analysis. 

No student, faculty or staff personal or confidential information was stolen. 

The following impacts were still being felt as of Tuesday night. 

  • Some departmental historical files and notes have been lost
  • Many internal programs don't work 
  • Impact on Windows devices including some Windows-based CTE classes 
  • Network printers are not functional

Officials say the incident has not impacted the ability to access student information through PowerSchool, operate schools safety, perform central office functions and use Apple devices. 

Shannon Tufts is a member of the NC Joint Cyber Task Force, and provided the board with background of the task force's role in the statement. 

She said the RSS staff needed to be commended for having the situation contained within 12 hours, having core system functionally in place before people returned to the classroom and staying determined to address the situation.